Williams College of Business launches annual speakers series with A.G. Lafley

Procter & Gamble president and CEO discusses eight fundamental lessons of leadership | March 23, 2006

The Williams College of Business inaugurated its Distinguished Speakers Series on Thursday, March 23, with a luncheon talk featuring A.G. Lafley, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble.

Speaking before the assembled crowd of about 500 in the James and Caroline Duff Banquet Center at the Cintas Center, Lafley outlined eight fundamental lessons for becoming a leader and underscored the importance of self-knowledge and clarity in purpose and values.

“Ask the fundamental questions ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I want to be or become?’ ‘How will I contribute?’ ‘How will I make a difference?’ ‘How will I make the world better?’" Lafley urged. “Those are whole-life questions; they’re not answered once and only once. They’re questions that fuse the personal development with the professional development. But I’ve found that getting clear about them provides an internal comfort that provides confidence particularly in the face of challenge and helps make tough choices.”

He also advised those present to recognize that change is inevitable; learn to see things as they are; respect customers as the real bosses; understand the power of choice, especially in strategies and execution; recognize that leaders make a difference, and that a big part of the difference they make is selecting and developing co-leaders; realize that leaders communicate clearly, consistently, frequently and transparently, and articulate their values and beliefs; and finally, be yourself, be comfortable with yourself and be confident.

“All these lessons come together in each of us as individuals,” he said. “Knowing and being yourself is the foundation for all that. Knowing and being yourself is also the key for the most important choices we make: choosing your avocation or profession in life, choosing work you are really passionate about, choosing a place of work where you’re surrounded by people you trust and you enjoy being with and you are learning from, choosing how to make the greatest possible difference in the world you can make.”

Following the talk, Lafley fielded questions from the audience.

Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business, opened the program, welcoming those assembled to “the first of many” events in the new series, which he said is “designed to bring together our three stakeholders. You will notice at every table we have a student, faculty and staff and administration who serve those students, and of course we have the business community, including our alumni. Our goal is to present prominent individuals in an open forum to educate, enlighten and inspire.”

The new series will be an annual event. The second presentation in the 2006 series is on May 3, when Robert H. Castellini, chairman of the Castellini Co. and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Reds, speaks at noon in the banquet center. For more information, call 513 745-2820 or visit www.xavier.edu/dss.

The Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by National City and Fidelity Investments.